5 Nontraditional Places to Study Fashion Abroad

by Briana Aragon

Study abroad is the new black. London, Paris, Milan: Europe has long been home to some of the foremost fashion capitals of the world. Though studying fashion abroad in one of these cities can be a fun, rewarding, and in vogue experience, it can also be an expensive and slightly generic option compared to other available programs in more far-flung, interesting, and fashion-forward destinations.

Having a fashion sense is valued worldwide. While it can look different on the surface, one very fundamental truth remains: an appreciation for looking good. Express yourself in a new way while also observing how others choose to manifest their personality through their outward appearance.

Fashion model

Those looking for a less familiar setting or culture, a more distinct fashion or language experience, or to integrate a study abroad fashion internship in design or business with their studies, should consider one of these five non European (*cough* nontraditional) places to study fashion abroad. It’ll be nearly as exciting as when Gucci became a publically traded company!

1. Buenos Aires, Argentina 

If not Paris, France, why not the Paris of South America? Improve your Spanish and get a closer look at Argentinian style in this fashionable capital located east of the Andes and north of Patagonia. Hunt for beautiful fashion finds down the barrios as you follow in the footsteps of the “grandfather of fashion” and proud local Pablo Ramírez.

Each year, Argentina hosts its most important fashion event, the Buenos Aires Fashion Week (aka BAFWeek); participants get a taste of the newest clothing labels, and up and coming fashion designers. Sometimes, fashion students from the University of Buenos Aires are invited to display their collections at the show, with all finances covered - a huge professional stepping stone for the lucky selectees.

Spanish language experience is not required for all programs, except in the case of upper level courses taught in the native language. Of course, basic knowledge of Spanish is always encouraged.

2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

Whether it’s the landscape, the people, or the fashion, Brazil is known for its beauty and brilliance. Several international luxury fashion brands are located here, renowned companies like Chanel, Dior, Armani and Marc Jacobs. The nearby Sao Paulo fashion week is held semi-annually, and is considered the fifth largest fashion week event, after New York, London, Paris, and Milan!

As one of the most populated city in the Americas, Rio de Janeiro offers opportunities to enter the fashion industry in such areas as footwear and handbag design, jewelry accessories, and even a master’s course in fashion marketing and communication. Within these types of fashion design and merchandising courses, students can focus not only on the wide ranging subjects of cultural history, theory, and practice, but also on a number of related specialties: product design and development, international marketing and brand recognition, exportation, technology, trends and innovation, corporate methodology, and management/administrative strategy.

If you’re a serious student of fashion looking to get a professional edge over your competitors, studying abroad in Rio de Janeiro would be an ideal location. 

Mosquein New Delhi, India

3. New Delhi, India 

Study fashion at one of the many universities or fashion institutes deep in the heart of northern India. An alternative to traditional Western culture, Delhi is full of vibrant colors and textures, from food, to furniture, to clothing! Fashion design is certainly not new to the region - the Sari and Dhoti have been a source of pride for Indians for centuries. There is a long history of incredible embroidery techniques and highly detailed formal attire. In recent years, the Indian fashion industry has boomed due to globalized trends and economic independence, not to mention the growing popularity of Bollywood film, costume, and music.

Some of the more physical course options include the design of accessories, jewelry, knitwear, leather and textiles, as well as media makeup, fashion photography, and interior design. On the more technological side, there is style and image design, web design, communication, and business management courses available.

Do your best to coordinate your study abroad program with Delhi Fashion Week for a real treat. 

4. Melbourne, Australia 

Discover fashion Down Under in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. While the movies would have us believe that Australians don nothing but thongs (flip flops!) and various shades of khaki, it’s just simply not true. Australia, and more specifically artsy, funky, and hip Melbourne, is a fusion of old and new fashions.

But fear not! That famous Aussie casual makes it’s way to its prints and designs, too. Whereas European fashion has a more tailored approach, Australian fashion is less so. It’s inspirations from neighboring Asian and Islander influences are marked. Learn the ropes in the land of Wayne Cooper, Collette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Carla Zampatti, Easton Pearson, Michelle Jank and Nicola Finetti. Becoming a student of fashion in Australia will give you the conceptual knowledge and garment-making skills necessary to transform creative visions into compelling couture.

Nagao Shrine, Japan

5. Tokyo, Japan

Two words: street fashion. If you’re looking for a study abroad destination that screams extreme and avant-garde (while still remaining high-fashion), you will go ape for the haute couture seen in the streets of cosmopolitan Tokyo.

The choices of color and cloth, in combination with the urban life and a creative freedom with which Japanese express themselves has contributed greatly to the Japanese sense of fashion, in the cut and garment types. Japanese fashion can be seen as a mixture of all European, exotic, futuristic and traditional styles. Globally renowned Japanese designers like Issey Miyaki, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo join the ranks of the world’s most innovative stylists, designers, and couturiers.

Whether you’re a fan of Cosplay (wearing clothes inspired by popular manga, anime, video games, and fantasy movie characters) or prefer the cutesy, young look of Lolita, the fashion of this island is anything but simple and traditional. Don’t be nervous if you’re not quite ready to adopt the bleached hair, artificial lashes, white lipstick, platform shoes, and brightly colored clothes look! The opportunity to learn the fashion ropes of Asia from Tokyo is not to be missed.

Fashion Study Abroad Scholarships

Because who doesn’t want to save their extra cash for a couple of shopping sprees and splurges while studying abroad?!

Many scholarships exist specifically to help you take your talents abroad as a student. Some popular financial awards include the Tortuga Backpack Study Abroad Scholarship, the Creative Diary Scholarship, and the Media Arts and Design Scholarship.

Check out over 100 more scholarships to study fashion design abroad.

Keep Calm & Dress Unique

Heed our advice to find the best fashion study abroad programs. Ensure your studies (and style) are future-proof by drawing inspiration from underappreciated fashion capitals the world over. Jumpstart your career in fashion design, business, and merchandising! Besides, who wants only their ice cream to be à la Mode?!